"Come, follow Me," the Savior spake, All in My way abiding; Deny yourselves, the world forsake, Obey My call and guiding. O bear the cross, whate'er betide, Take My example for your guide.
"Then let us follow Christ, our Lord, And take the cross appointed. And, firmly clinging to His Word, In suff'ring be undaunted. For those who bear the battle's strain, The crown of heav'nly life obtain."
"Deny yourselves, the world forsake." That may not be popular advice. Contemporary culture is not necessarily known for self-denial. Yet in a world of self-gratification and self-centeredness, there stands Jesus, calling to us, "Come, follow Me ... Deny yourselves, the world forsake ... bear the cross." It is not a cross of our own making, a cross created out of our own invented piety and pride. The cross we are to take up is more like that borne by Simon of Cyrene on the first Good Friday. Simon was quite literally the first to take up the cross and follow in Jesus' steps. It was not Simon's idea; Scripture tells us that soldiers "seized" him and "compelled" him to take up Jesus' cross and carry it to Golgotha.
"Take My example for your guide." The apostle Peter writes, "For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps" (1 Peter 2:21). As Simon of Cyrene no doubt learned, to follow closely in the steps of Jesus may well mean that cross-bearers will be splattered with the dust and blood of suffering. Jesus left us His example of suffering, but His death on the cross was much more than an example to follow. "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed" (1 Peter 2:24).
Healed and forgiven by His wounds, we take up the cross and follow. In many places around the world, cross-bearers suffer the loss of homes and employment, imprisonment or death. In other places those who follow Jesus may only endure the ridicule or disdain of others. But in every place, taking up the cross calls for self-denial and the forsaking of the world's temptations. Our sinful and self-centered demands are to be laid aside so that we might better love our neighbor as ourselves. In this, too, we follow Jesus: "Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please Himself, but as it is written, 'The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me'" (Romans 15:2-3).
In the strength of the Spirit, we take up the cross and follow Jesus, bearing up under the strain of battle against the temptations of the devil, the world, and our own sinful self-centeredness. By faith we cling firmly to the Word—to Jesus, the Word made flesh, and to the written Word of Scripture. Undaunted in suffering and in service, one day we will bear, not a cross, but a crown. "Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Revelation 2:10b).
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help us to deny ourselves and forsake the things of the world, so that we might more closely follow You. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "'Come, Follow Me,' the Savior Spake," which is found on page 688 of the Lutheran Service Book.
1. Following someone can require a lot from us. How do you do with following someone else?
2. How important is it to be well versed in understanding Jesus' words to us?
3. Is it harder now or when you were younger to keep your focus on doing something to completion?
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